Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hi All
At last am back on line! What a dogs breakfast Talk-Talk and BT made for me!
Am now fluent in punjabi after using Talk Talk's HELP line.
Looking forward to Sunday Lunch at the Prince Rupert Shrewsbury

Friday, February 22, 2013

Music from long ago II

So amazed am I that JDM remembered the Johnny Otis Show I feel compelled to post two more hits from that era.

 I always loved the lyrics from this:

'I took a black cat, a cave bat, and threw them in a pot pot,
pot pot, pot pot
I took a blue snake, a green snake, and tied them in a knot knot,
knot knot, knot knot
I took a hog jaw, a dog's paw, and hung them on the line line,
line line, line line
I took a whore's hair, a green pear, and made a crazy sign sign,
sign sign, sign sign.'

Sadly whore’s hairs have gone the same way as rhino horn these days so this recipe no longer works. But back in the day…..

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Music from long ago

Summer 1958 was a long hot summer and my first in Germany. While my PRS friends from army families returned to bases close to the border ready to repel the Russkis we RAF types languished in relative luxury closer to the Rhine. Köln even back then was an incredibly vibrant city and home to countless blonde Rhinemaidens only too anxious to make the acquaintance of gauche English youths who could readily lay hands on Nescafe and Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes. It was my first foretaste of the privileges that accrued to being a conquering power. Much of that summer was spent in a popular little coffee bar half way up the cobbled Bonner Strasse smoking myself senseless and learning how not to be a complete jerk when surrounded by women. German youth like us was heavily into rock n’roll, but their favourite hits could differ quite significantly. Here are three hits from those halcyon days. One widely known, although perhaps courtesy of Cliff Richard and two from an artist perhaps less widely known.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A strange day on this Sceptred Isle

Albeit briefly the leaping light returned for our delight and the sky turned blue. Must be global warming?

(All houses in the UK now have at least one road cone)
PRS girls get everywhere.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

More 'BLUE SKIES' following major snowfall

                                               And I didn't have to shovel a single snowflake (Streetside view)
                                                  Marshalling point for 'Ice Fishermen' enroute to Thorah Island
                                                20 minutes from home - above. Note the plane on skis in distance
                                               The main catch is 'Perch' which are in abundance and without limit

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

3 more Drake 'boys'

More Drake boys: Terry Barker, Barry Farmer and Steve Ford in Canberra for the Oz reunion. Last met as seniors in 1969.
Kudos to Sonya for organising a great weekend.

The past is a foreign country - does anyone in Germany speak English?

Pleased to meet you .. hope you guess my name…

In April 1958 I spent my birthday being sick on a tub of a boat called the SS Vienna just off the Hook of Holland. Having been separated from my mother and younger brother I was consigned to the bilges with the squaddies. An hour into our journey a gale struck and I lay in my bunk, a vibrating decking plate dripping with condensation only six inches from my noise. We might as well have been in the same room as the engine. The place stunk of engine oil and as time went on vomit. In the far corner of our metal box some hardy souls had set up a card school sponsored by Capstan Full Strength. On a top bunk I was enveloped in their fog. Sleep wasn’t on the agenda and to add a little piquancy to the other olefactory delights on offer some of the squaddies had dinned that night on boiled cabbage and brown ale. Three days later, still recovering from nausea I was propelled into a very alien world. I was told I was going to an English speaking school, although as I was to find the lingua franca was quite alien to anything I spoke.

On arrival at PRS I was allocated to a room with two other inmates Ian Stewart and Mick Poole who were my guides and mentors in those first difficult weeks. Despite their best endeavours, by the end of week one I seemed to have fallen foul of an inordinately large number of people, but without Ian and Mick it may well have been far worse. At least part of my problem was dealing with a whole raft of new rituals, hierarchies and language. I had arrived from London where young people were struggling to create a new culture to challenge that of their parents. One that would soon blossom into what later would be known as the Sixties. Self confidence and individualism were the order of the day. To me PRS was a very alien world. What I didn’t realise was I was stepping back in time.

To their great credit neither of my mentors gave up on me and Ian in particular took it upon himself to ensure that I had access to all the delights that PRS had on offer. I recall this included women. I suspect that even back then he must have been an avid Jane Austen fan as he seemed to work on the premise: that it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of an outrageous hairstyle, must surely be in want of a woman.

History as a collection of facts can often be very dry. When recalling the past it is sometimes interesting to try and reconstruct events to recreate a flavour of the times. Hopefully the following reconstructed conversation captures the confusion of those distant days.

Week Two: Monday ‘Someone in Drake has a crush on you,’ said Ian pausing from polishing his CCF boots. Prior to this point I’d thought that spit and polish was simply an expression. I had no idea spit was actually involved.

‘A what? What does that mean?’ Pause for sharp intake of breath expecting that more opprobrium is about to descend from on high. I’d already been pounded by prefectorial fists - I found the idea of a crush terrifying. ‘Now who have I upset Ian?’

‘It’s a girl stupid – it means she fancies you. She’s in 3A.’

‘So she’s an intellectual! Sounds interesting. It means they’re more creative. ‘Ere how do you know she fancies me?’

‘Her friends told me and besides she’s wearing a yellow crush pin.’

‘A crush pin! What’s that? Sounds bloody dangerous to me.’

‘It’s a pin with a coloured head you stick in the lapel of your blazer to signify that there’s somebody you have a crush on. People think she’s very pretty. There’s also a girl in Howe who has a crush on you.’

‘Wow! I get a choice then?’

‘Not really! A Howe Girl would go against house spirit.’

‘House what?’

Wednesday afternoon. Ian surrounded by a group of giggling girls. Further back a lone girl stands with exaggerated nonchalance staring into the distance. The giggling girls are looking in my direction. Ian approaches. ‘That’s it! You’re fixed up!

Fixed up? What’s fixed? What are you talking about? Nothing’s been broken.’

‘It means you’re going out with Christine.’

‘Going where…?’

‘Look don’t **** about she’s packed her boyfriend in to go out with you!’

‘Packed? What does packed mean?........’

Exit Ian stage left. The lone girl approaches, hands held self consciously in front of her. Short blonde hair, pretty smile, large, chunky-knit, yellow pullover and hockey skirt…. trifle pink around the gills…… nice……… mustn’t stare – casual at all costs.

‘You’re new! Ian says you play guitar!’

Do I look that green? Why is it girls are always so self assured? She looks into my eyes anxiously to check I haven’t gone comatose. Thankfully five minutes later the interrogation ends.

‘That’s your bus’ another sweet smile. ‘You’re going to the Sportsplatz.

‘I’m going where?’

‘You’ve got to get your standards for Drake House.’

‘Standards?.... I give up!’

Thursday lunchtime. ‘I see matron has stripped your bed again.’

‘Is there no end to sadistic perversion in this place? I guess there’s no way they will forgive us for winning the war. Sweeping the corridor is bloody bad enough.’

‘There’s a letter here from Christine.’

‘Really? What’s this SWALK written on the back?’

‘They always write that; when you write back you put EGYPT on your envelope – that’s what we do. And don’t forget she’ll be waiting outside Drake Girls at lunchtime. If you don’t see her she’ll pack you in.

‘Pack me in what? I don’t understand. Why’s she writing to me Ian?’

‘To make arrangements for the pictures. Just make sure you don’t get gated! If you’re lucky she’ll hold your hand, but don’t expect any snogging …and watch out for Miss Tebbs.’

‘Why? Does she fancy me too?’

‘No wonder people say you’re a slicker. And before I forget, remember to ask her about Deich walks!

‘Dike walks?’ Gordon Bennett! Thank God I’ve been spared any sense of prescience …!!!

‘And don’t leave it until we have an Easy Weekend!

‘You mean they have a special weekend………?.’

‘No! You daft sod! Listen! Third form privileges mean you can walk around the Deich together. It’s a long way around, but don’t worry, you don’t have to go all the way.

‘Thank God for that Ian!!!!!!!!!!!!’

[CM should you perchance read this and recognise yourself – I’m sorry I was so useless.]

Monday, February 11, 2013

3 Drake 'boys'

Some of you may recognise me in the middle and Bob Innes  on the left, but who is the other Drake boy, also from the late fifties? Taken on 2nd December last prior to the Wroughton lunch.

Anyone see the clearance

Another from the archive, I think 1947 but no doubt Bruce will correct me!
Any one going to the lunch at Shrewsbury Mar 3rd?
Keep warm

Friday, February 08, 2013

She's arrived

On way up to see other Nanny in Hull... so watch out up there trouble is on it's way!!

The Boss

 My new favourite pic of the rodent,7 months and has booted her mothers wedding pic from my screen saver.

sunrise sunset - I could not resist it...

Thursday, February 07, 2013

While on the subject of hairstyles!

The past is a foreign country...

It has been said more than once that ‘the past is a foreign country – they do things differently there,’ something that was brought home to me forcibly while watching a TV program recently tracing the history of pop charts. One of the points made in the program was that the BBC was slow to pick up on charting pop music – ‘Top of the Pops’ etc.’ as they felt it would  encourage undesirable elements in society (in hindsight perhaps they were right given the revelations about a certain individual from Leeds.) There certainly was a view abroad in the mid fifties that pop music in the form of rock n’ roll was very much the domain of ne’er do wells, layabouts  and criminal classes. One of the labels ascribed to these people at the time was 'teddy boys.'

            What has this to do with PRS you might ask? Little of consequence other than it shaped my time at school although I never clearly saw it at the time.

            By the time I landed at PRS in April 1958, back at home Britannia was already loosing its stays and those who saw Rock n’ Roll as ungodly, or a hot bed for delinquency were no longer being taken as seriously as they once had. However far away in Wilhelmshaven there were still many British people celebrating ‘traditional’ pre war values. Divorced from the main PRS remained a redoubt from which progress could be protected.

            At this juncture it is important for me to recognise that a singular PRS experience can be quite elusive. How you reacted to the school, or the school reacted to you, because of the tight and often insular house system was largely determined by four things:  the year you were there, the house you belonged too, the Head of House and the Housemaster. I have discovered since that people who were at PRS even at the same time as me had quite different experiences.

            In April 1958 in can be argued that for those who didn’t wholeheartedly throw themselves into the labyrinthine hierarchies and values Drake Boys subscribed to it could be a repressive, regressive and even brutal regime. I further freely concede that by Summer 1960 with other hands at the helm Drake Boys was quite a different place.

            When I joined the school I was placed in form 3b and my first evening in Drake I blotted my copybook by walking through a door before somebody from 4b – I was supposed to stand aside. However then I had had no portent of what was about to come.

            What has this to do with Rock n’ Roll and pop charts you might ask?  Well when my grandmother in London discovered I was being torn from the bosom of my family and shipped off to Wilhelmshaven she was understandably horrified. Notwithstanding this, she was an old hand at supporting members of her family languishing in POW camps – my father had been a prisoner of the Greek Communists during the war. So like many inmates I received regular parcels containing cakes (never any with files) and here I get to the point, weekly copies of The New Musical Express  and Disc rolled in a brown paper collar for the post, which allowed the handler to see the contents. For my first few weeks at PRS these newspapers arrived regularly, but then they suddenly stopped. I was puzzled but concluded my grandmother had simply ceased sending them.

            Drake Boys was a very musical place at the time. In fact it is probably true to say it had more guitar players than the rest of the school put together. The music in April 1958 was largely skiffle – the house had a well known skiffle group and a few avant garde people were already moving on to play Buddy Holly. Perhaps my crime was that I liked black rock n’ roll artists, although I never would have at the time labelled them, or seen them as such. I too bought a guitar but wanted to play not like Buddy Holly but Chuck Berry.

            Meanwhile I had no idea of the ferment taking place behind the scenes. The first ‘easy weekend’ my mother arrived to check I was still alive (I was never a prolific letter writer) and was promptly summoned to see the House master. There with no more ado she was asked if I’d ever been to borstal. I’m not entirely sure my poor mother ever got over the shock. When she finally found her voice, the Housemaster pointed to a pile of neatly rolled newspapers (all the missing copies of the New Musical Express and Disc that he had confiscated without bothering to tell me). What other proof was needed of my potential for sedition? My mother like many parents at the time had difficulty in challenging authority and besides she was still largely speechless.

            As for me I was returned my newspapers at the end of term and told never to bring them into school again, but more significantly as we know only too well today, giving labels to young people often obliges them to live up to them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A Yorkshire treat

A Yorkshireman and his wife walked past a swanky new restaurant. "Did you smell that food?" she asked..."Wonderful!" Being a kind Hearted yorkshireman, he thought, "What the hell, I'll treat her!" ... So they walked past it again...

One for the archives

Monday, February 04, 2013

Lord of the North...


Horrible Histories - The Ghost of Richard III

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Ken Ingram - Rodney in 50's

I believe some of you might remember Ken Ingram - he was bit of sports star - but having looked for him even since Liz started TWA - his neighbour found us - Ken is not on T'Internet - and Ken was thrilled to know there were people around that remembered the school!! So if you would like me to pass your details onto him - do let me know.

The Hummingbirds star in new Gerry & The Pacemakers' You'll Never Walk Alone video

The Hummingbirds star in new Gerry & The Pacemakers' You'll Never Walk Alone video